Mobile apps dominate our smartphone screens. A report by Statista indicates that Google Play Store hosts over 3.5 million mobile apps worldwide, with the Apple App Store trailing not far behind with 2.2 million mobile apps.
Given their widespread appeal, it’s understandable why nearly every digital enterprise is venturing into mobile app development. Yet, when considering this investment, a question often emerges: How much does it cost to develop a mobile app?
This blog will provide you a thorough response to that question. We’ll also dive deeper into the variables influencing development costs, and offer tips on optimizing your budget for mobile app development.
What’s the Average Cost of Building a Mobile App?
Simply put, making a mobile app ranges between $25,000 and $150,000. Costs can go above $300,000 for complex apps, depending on app complexity and features. To get a precise quote, contact a reliable app development partner such as ScrumDigital or use a basic formula based on development time and hourly rates.
App Development Cost = Total Development Time x Hourly Rate
Now, let’s see the cost of some well-known apps in the market.
Top Global Apps and Their Development Cost
The average cost of developing an app like Netflix is around $25,000 to $200,000. This is because Netflix is a streaming app that requires a lot of storage space and bandwidth to deliver videos to users.
Uber, a widely-used ride-sharing app, links drivers with riders worldwide. Through the app, users can instantly book a ride or schedule one for later. Nearby drivers get these ride requests. Developing a similar app typically costs between $30,000 and $100,000.
A messaging app like WhatsApp, with end-to-end encryption, cloud storage, and real-time messaging, might cost anywhere from $30,000 to $70,000. This doesn’t account for the constant updates and added features over the years.
Tinder is a relatively complex app with a lot of features like wipe mechanics, chat functionality, and location-based matching and more. A basic version of the app may cost around $25,000, while a more complex version with more features could cost up to $120,000.
With a daily user base of over 300 million, Snapchat reshaped the social media landscape. This messaging giant introduced users to augmented reality through its unique filters and lenses. The app lets users send multimedia messages that vanish after a maximum of 10 seconds. Making an app similar to Snapchat could cost between $45,000 and $100,000 for one platform, and potentially up to $200,000 for both platforms.
Top 10 Factors That Impact Your Mobile App Development Cost
1. Type of app
The nature and functionality of an app play a pivotal role in determining its development cost. For instance, a simple utility app that performs basic tasks, like a flashlight or calculator, will generally be less expensive due to its limited features. In contrast, a game, especially one with high-end graphics and real-time multiplayer functions, can incur higher costs because of the complexities involved in its development.
Social media apps, with their need for user profiles, real-time messaging, and notifications, can also be more resource-intensive. E-commerce apps, which require secure payment gateways, product listings, and customer reviews, can likewise drive up expenses. Each category has distinct developmental needs and challenges, all of which significantly sway the overall budget.
2. Platform selection
Choosing between iOS, Android, or both platforms can significantly impact the budget of app development. Native apps, tailored exclusively for a specific platform (either iOS or Android), often demand specialized skills and tools. For example, iOS app development requires proficiency in Swift or Objective-C and the use of Xcode, while Android development leans on Java or Kotlin with Android Studio. These unique requirements can influence cost.
On the other hand, hybrid or cross-platform apps, which work on multiple platforms using a single codebase, often employ mobile frameworks like React Native or Flutter. While they might seem cost-effective initially, they could need platform-specific adjustments later. Therefore, the choice between native and hybrid development hinges on both immediate budget considerations and long-term goals for app performance and user experience.
|Complexity||iOS development cost||Android development cost|
|Basic||$2500-5000||$2000 – $5000|
|Intermediate||$9000 – $15000||$6000 – $15000|
3. App complexity and features
A basic app, perhaps one that serves as a digital business card or a simple note-taker, would be relatively inexpensive to develop due to its straightforward design and limited functionality. However, as you integrate more advanced features, the price starts to climb.
Adding a payment gateway necessitates robust security measures, seamless user experience, and compliance with financial regulations. Integrating GPS functionality means addressing accuracy and real-time tracking concerns. Augmented reality (AR) demands high-resolution graphics, advanced algorithms, and often more intensive testing.
|Feature||Estimated Time||Approx cost(USD)|
|User Authentication||40-80 hours||$2,000 – $8,000|
|User Profile Creation||20-40 hours||$1,000 – $4,000|
|In-app Purchases||40-100 hours||$2,000 – $10,000|
|Social Media Integration||20-50 hours||$1,000 – $5,000|
|Push Notifications||20-40 hours||$1,000 – $4,000|
|Chat or Messaging||80-200 hours||$4,000 – $20,000|
|Geolocation Services||40-100 hours||$2,000 – $10,000|
|Complex UI/UX Design||50-200 hours||$2,500 – $20,000|
|Offline Mode||40-120 hours||$2,000 – $12,000|
|Integration with APIs||50-150 hours||$2,500 – $15,000|
|Admin Panel or Backend||100-400 hours||$5,000 – $40,000|
|Testing & QA||20-200 hours||$1,000 – $20,000|
|Maintenance & Updates||Ongoing||Varies|
Note-The figures are made considering a rough estimate of $50-$100/hour, which is a rate that might be applicable in many Western countries. Costs can be significantly lower in countries where labor costs are less.
4. App design
Customized designs and user interfaces (UI) present a unique experience tailored specifically for an app’s target audience. Instead of utilizing off-the-shelf templates, which may offer a generic look and feel, custom designs allow businesses to align the app’s aesthetics with their brand identity, ensuring a cohesive and memorable user experience. However, this bespoke approach comes with its costs.
Designers spend more time understanding the user’s needs, creating mockups, and iterating based on feedback. Every element, from color palettes to iconography, is crafted meticulously, thereby increasing the overall budget.
5. Backend development
Apps with server-side components or APIs involve a deeper layer of complexity compared to standalone apps. This is because they often need secure databases, real-time data syncing, and the capability to manage vast user interactions simultaneously.
Designing, developing, and maintaining such backend infrastructure requires specialized skills and tools, leading to increased development hours. Additionally, there are costs associated with hosting, security, and potential scalability needs. As a result, these apps generally demand a higher investment compared to their no-backend counterparts.
6. Location and rate of developers
Rates for services, such as software development, can differ substantially depending on the region. North America, for example, often sees higher charges for developer services, primarily due to the region’s elevated living standards, higher operational costs, and the premium placed on specialized skills.
In contrast, parts of Asia, with emerging economies, can offer competitive rates, given the lower cost of living and the abundance of skilled labor in tech sectors. This doesn’t necessarily indicate a compromise on quality. Many businesses globally capitalize on these regional rate discrepancies by outsourcing projects to Asian countries, achieving cost efficiencies while still maintaining high-quality outputs.
|North America||$100 – $250/hour|
|Western Europe||$75 – $200/hour|
|Eastern Europe||$40 – $150/hour|
|Southeast Asia||$20 – $50/hour|
7. Maintenance and updates
Once an app is launched, its journey doesn’t end there. As user numbers grow and feedback flows in, developers may encounter unexpected issues or identify areas for enhancement. Regular updates are essential to rectify these bugs and ensure the software remains compatible with the latest operating system versions.
Additionally, to stay competitive and meet evolving user expectations, the introduction of new features becomes crucial. This ongoing maintenance and enhancement not only ensures the app’s relevance and usability but also implies continuous expenditure. While initial development might constitute a major expense, it’s vital to budget for these continuous post-launch costs to ensure the app’s longevity and success.
8. Integration with other systems
Integrating an app with pre-existing systems, such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, or specific databases, introduces a layer of complexity to the development process. Such integrations often demand specialized expertise to ensure smooth and efficient data exchange without compromising the functionality of either system.
Moreover, there’s the challenge of maintaining data integrity and security during these exchanges. Developers must also be prepared for potential compatibility issues or software limitations that can arise. Consequently, the need for these intricate integrations, coupled with potential troubleshooting, increases the hours of development, testing, and monitoring, leading to a notable uptick in the overall cost.
9. Security measures
Apps handling sensitive information, be it personal data or financial details, operate under a heightened level of inspection due to the potential risks associated with data breaches. Implementing strict security measures goes beyond simple password protection; it encompasses data encryption, secure data transmission, intrusion detection systems, and regular vulnerability assessments.
Furthermore, adhering to global privacy standards, like GDPR or CCPA, might necessitate specialized compliance frameworks. Regular updates to counter new threats and potential third-party security audits add layers of precaution. All these measures, while crucial for safeguarding user trust and ensuring regulatory adherence, invariably contribute to increased development, implementation, and maintenance costs for the app.
10. Testing and QA
An app’s success isn’t just defined by its features but by its reliability and the user experience it offers. To guarantee this, rigorous testing becomes imperative. This process involves multiple stages, from unit testing individual components, to integration testing, and then full-scale user acceptance testing. Each phase identifies and rectifies issues, ensuring the app runs smoothly across different devices and operating systems.
Furthermore, testing scenarios may also simulate various user loads to assess performance. Tools, simulated environments, and sometimes even third-party services are used, each incurring expenses. This comprehensive testing not only ensures an error-free product but also builds trust among users. However, this level of diligence inevitably adds to the app’s overall development costs.
How Can App Development Costs be Reduced?
1. Clear requirements
Starting with a well-defined idea is crucial for efficient app development. When requirements are unclear or frequently changed, developers have to spend extra time revising or even redoing their work. This prolongs the development timeline and also escalates costs, as the team expends more hours adjusting to shifting objectives. Thus, clarity and consistency in initial requirements are essential for cost-effective development.
Creating a prototype offers a preliminary view of the app, highlighting its core features and design. This step can reveal potential flaws or user experience issues early on. By addressing these in the prototype stage, developers can avoid costly revisions later, ensuring a smoother and more economical transition to full-scale development.
3. Open-source tools
Open-source tools and libraries provide pre-built codes and functionalities, eliminating the need to create everything from scratch. By leveraging these resources, developers can accelerate the development process, ensuring quicker turnarounds. Additionally, since these tools are freely available, they reduce software licensing expenses, leading to significant cost savings in the project.
4. Cross-platform development
Cross-platform tools, such as Flutter or React Native, enable developers to write a single codebase that functions on multiple operating systems. This approach negates the need for separate codes for each OS, saving development time and resources. As a result, businesses can reach wider audiences more efficiently and cost-effectively.
Outsourcing to regions with lower labor costs can yield significant savings in app development. By tapping into global talent pools, companies can access skilled developers at a fraction of the price they might pay locally. This geographical arbitrage not only reduces expenses but also allows for a diversified approach to problem-solving and innovation.
7 Ways Through which ScrumDigital Can Help You with Mobile App Development Cost Estimation?
- Industry Expertise: With our vast experience in the mobile app domain, we’re adept at offering precise cost estimations tailored to your app’s requirements.
- Bespoke Solutions: We closely evaluate your business objectives to propose custom app solutions, ensuring value for every dollar spent.
- Transparent Costing: Our transparent approach ensures you receive a clear cost breakdown, from the design phase to deployment, with no unexpected charges.
- Efficiency through Agile: Embracing the Scrum framework, we champion resource efficiency, often leading to notable cost benefits for our clients.
- Updated with Market Trends: Our finger on the pulse of the tech world ensures we recommend the most cost-effective and up-to-date tools and technologies.
- Consistent Post-Launch Support: Our maintenance and support packages are designed to offer you predictable costs, aiding in long-term budgetary decisions.
- A Collaborative Process: We believe in forging strong partnerships. By involving you in the estimation process, we ensure the proposed budget aligns seamlessly with your business vision and goals.
The cost of mobile app development in 2023 hinges on a multitude of factors, ranging from app complexity and design to regional developer rates and post-launch support. While ballpark figures can be cited, understanding and navigating these variables is key to obtaining accurate estimates. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, partnering with experienced teams, like ScrumDigital, can provide clarity and ensure that your investment translates into a successful and cost-effective mobile application.